Gok depe

Gok depe fortress

Gok-Depe (or Goek Depe, gokdepe) that translates as a Green or Blue Hill, is the site of the Turkmen’s latest stand against the Russians that was the place of the battle in 1881 which ended the era of the Ahal Teke Turkmens. Gokdepe village is located in the middle of the main road between Ashgabat and Bakharden. It is very close to Ashgabat, so you can easily have a day trip and return to the capital. 

Thousands of Turkmen troops and civilians were killed in the battle mentioned and in the massacre that followed it. This event is still remembered every year during the anniversary of the battle. During the Soviet era, this memorial site of the breached earthen fortress, was part of a collective farm. 

Gok Depe train station is a single-story building in the center of the town with buses and mini buses to/from Ashgabat, stopping in front of it. A footbridge leads you over the railway to the site of the Geok Depe fortress and the mosque. The walls of the fortress have recently been reconstructed and offer a good sense of what an impressive defensive structure this must have been once. The walls are built to a thickness of 11 m at the base, tapering to 8 m at the top. 

You can climb steps to walk along the top. In addition to the memorial site complex just north from the railway station, Gok Depe also offers some nice park areas towards south from the city center and further west in the more recently built areas along the highway going through the city. Tourists often visit Gok Depe to see the famous Turkmenistan Ahalteke horses in the many horse ranches nearby the city. It is also possible to have horseback riding by the Gok Depe reservoir.

Gok Depe lake with Akhal Teke horses

Saparmurat Hajji Mosque

Sapamurat Hajji mosque’s name refers to Niyazov’s pilgrimage to Mecca, from where he returned with US$10 billion of aid from the Saudi government. It is the first major project in Turkmenistan of the French construction company Bouguyes, completed in 1995. The mosque can accommodate 8 000 worshipers. It has a central dome of deep green color, surrounded by four green half-domes. The four minarets of the Saparmurat mosque are each 63 m in height, representing the age attained by the Prophet Mohammed. On the eastern side of the mosque there is a square courtyard, centered around a star-shaped pool.

 Small white domes protrude from the roof around this courtyard like a row of eggs. This part of the complex includes both an area for ablutions on the ground floor and rooms originally intended to be a madrasa above. In a change of heart, the authorities have never allowed the latter to open.

The interior of the mosque features four pillars outlining a large central space into which hangs a huge French chandelier. It weighs two tonnes and contains 260 lamps. The interior of the dome and half-domes are decorated with soothing pastel blue designs, and the interior walls feature pleasant tiled representations of the traditional patterns of Turkmen carpets. The mosque is the focus of the government’s annual Goek depe commemoration taking place January 12. 

Saparymat Haji Mosque in Gok Depe, Turkmenistan

Mausoleum of Kurbanmurad Ishan

In the graveyard, at the northern side of the fortress complex, is the simplistic Mausoleum of Kurbanmurad Ishan, a Naqshbandi Sheikh who served to inspire the Turkmens to stand firmly against the Russians. His tomb is a revered place of pilgrimage.

Gok depe Museum

A museum devoted to the events of 1881, is recorded to be built at the bottom of the walls here. Hence, the unreconstructed fortress walls are obvious as degraded ridges. The hill of Dengil Depe is still prominent against the skyline, though it is surrounded by vineyards and difficult to reach.

Other destinations near Gok Depe

Page updated 8.3.2021

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